「転生せし者」 (Tensei Seshi Mono)
Of all the magical-fantasy-action-harem anime based on a light novels I’ve watched so far this season, this one may not be the worst, but it disappointed me the most. This first episode is an absolute mess.
Flash Forward Prologue
The one thing Seiken Tsukai no World Break did relatively well was the flash forward opening. To be honest, I’m not fond of the tactic—why give away where they’re going when it’s more satisfying to watch them get there? But it worked well because it was relatively clear what was going on. The only things they pointed out were either things we knew from the premise (MC-kun has two past lives), and the rest was a straightforward battle against some badass dragon. I also liked that he wasn’t doing everything on his own—the other characters were at least defending and stalling the baddie, and wounding it too, even if protagonist Haimura Moroha (Ishikawa Kaito) was still doing the heavy lifting.
And that’s about where my praise ends for today.
Inherently Gifted Characters Are Not Likable, Relatable, Or Interesting
I wrote a post over at my new site on relatability last night, after blogging the latest episode of Log Horizon. It was Kanami who reminded me that I needed to write it (I’ve been meaning to do it for a long time), because she’s not the least bit relatable. That’s not the goal though. Relatability is overrated; it’s hard better to shoot for interesting. That’s something Kanami shares with Shiroe and much of the Log Horizon cast.
Not so here! Moroha is a text-book example of an ordinary high school student (trope!) who turns out to be some unstoppable badass through no effort of his own. Sometimes, that’s fine. Great stories do not often feature normal people, because regular people don’t often do great things. Tokyo Ravens—which I wish I had blogged more and more as time goes on—features plenty of characters that are not normal, by birth or circumstance or both. But they all work at it as well. They work hard, they struggle, they fail, and sometimes their gifts come in handy, but that’s okay because they’re doing the other part themselves.
I can only guess the suddenly-handing-Moroha-all-this-power-he-didn’t-work-for is meant to make him more relatable (in addition to his utterly forgettable personality), so the average Japanese light novel consumer can more easily step into his shoes. But as I said in the post on my site, that’s not desirable. I can’t imagine myself as Harutora, but I shouldn’t—I’m not him. I can see where he’s coming from, though. I can imagine myself standing beside him, or looking over his shoulder as he tackles his trials, and empathize with him in doing so. What I find ridiculous is that the character I empathized with the most this time was Isurugi Gen (Sugisaki Ryou). Yes, he was a total asshole, a remorseless bully who pushed people around because he could, and who threatened to strip a girl against her will, which is sexual assault, but he worked for two long years and earned his power, whereas Moroha tripped into it all of a sudden, by virtue of his unique birth and plot armor. It’s remarkable how badly you have to screw up for a bully to elicit the most sympathy, even if it’s only for a second.
Stupid Characters Are Not Likable, Relatable, Or Interesting
You know what’s also a bad idea, character-wise? Irredeemable idiots. Ranjou Satsuki (Taketatsu Ayana) spends the entire episode doing things so stupid that I’ve already written her off as a human being. Isurugi is still a bully and an asshole for beating her up, but she willfully stuck her head in the meat grinder. This isn’t victim blaming; I’m not saying that she deserved it because she wore those clothes. If she hadn’t picked a fight, or had backed down after a few insults, and Isurugi had tried to force the confrontation, the teacher would have kicked his ass. She willfully stepped into the bear trap, and I don’t have a lot of respect for a character like that. And exposing her back to an enemy? What a baka.
Ditto, by the way, for Moroha. Him challenging Isurugi to a pointless fight when he had no chance of winning (outside of plot armor) did not make him look admirable. It made him look like an idiot. Thus we have another reason to stop caring about him before we even start.
Compared to Taketatsu Ayana Imouto Character #47, Urushibara Shizuno (Yuuki Aoi) is at least interesting for holding her cards closer to her chest, and being one of the few Yuuki Aoi characters that doesn’t sound like she’s a high-pitched 13-year-old. Past that, no other feelings. She was just sort of there.
Harem Antics Instead Of Plot
Probably my other biggest gripe is that they kept talking about these Metaphysicals, but I have no idea what they are! They sound dangerous, but some context, please? I know I gripe about exposition a lot in these early episodes, and it truly is a difficult thing to do, but you have to put some effort into it, and I didn’t feel any of that here. They went from shameless infodumping to ignoring something big entirely. I’d almost rather an utterly shameless narrated introduction like in the first episode if World Trigger than the half-assed one we got here.
Mostly the focused all seemed to be on shameless fanservice and tsundere bickering, which … look, I know why people would watch this show. It’s exactly for those things. But they spent time on it like it’s the fifth episode, not the first. Introduce us to the world and the characters, slip a few harem antic bits in to let everyone know the score, and ramp them up later on when we have time. Too much too early just makes it seem vapid.
I’m undecided whether this or Absolute Duo is the biggest stinker so far. I went into Absolute Duo with lower expectations, and it slightly underperformed even those, but I was looking forward to Seiken Tsukai no World Break second to Shinmai Maou no Testament (out of the four magical-fantasy-action-harem anime only), and it underperformed those expectations precipitously. That still makes it okay, and it could recover; earlier in my magical-fantasy-action-harem watching career, I might have stuck with them, even if they’re not executing on their own tropes very well.
As is, both are on the chopping block for me. I don’t know if I’ll even bother to watch a second episode of either. Only Shinmai has proven itself capable of telling a decent story of the three. I guess I should try out Juuou Mujin no Fafnir, but gods, at this point I can’t drum up the necessary fucks. Even if this is a weak season, there are better things going on than this latest crop of magical-fantasy-action-harem anime, by far.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Another magical-fantasy-action-harem anime, another storytelling mess. I feel like potential was squandered #waruburea 01
- Animation-wise, it was a bit … fragmented, perhaps? It was rough during action scenes, and some of the silly scenes had a strange drop in animation quality for a few frames. Not encouraging.
- The characters’ eyes look weird. There’s an extra dot in the middle of their pupils. It’s like they have four-layer eyes, instead of three-layer. Even counting for the distortion of anime eyes, that’s weird.
- Moroha looks really silly in that one piece leotard. Now that he has his barrier jacket or whatever, I hope we never see that again.
- I thought injuries in the arena don’t stick? Just drag him outside and he’d be fine. Or is that a plot hole!? Eh, stopped caring.
I wrote a book! My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info) My personal site has also moved. Last four posts: Relatability is overrated. Go for interesting, I can’t believe it. This is really happening!, Lessons from the Dresden Files: All alone, & Mind meld.